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Infant Heart Transplant Controversy Continues
Date:8/13/2008

oviding that anesthesia is administered. With proper safeguards, no patient will die from vital organ donation who would not otherwise die as a result of the withdrawal of life support."

Veatch takes a more conservative stance on organ procurement, and said he believes that most local organ procurement organizations wouldn't support the Denver procurements, no matter how successful the transplants may have been.

Veatch said, ideally, people would have a choice when they decide to become organ donors, and that choice would include organ donation after whole brain death, organ donation if you've suffered a permanent loss of consciousness, and cardiac death. Currently, organs are only harvested after whole brain death or cardiac death, according to Veatch, and he added that only New Jersey offers organ donors a choice with these options. But, he said he believes that many people, if offered the choice, would choose to have their organs donated if it was determined that they were in a persistive vegetative state.

Truog said the debate isn't likely to end soon, and sometimes, more than medical personnel get involved in these highly controversial decisions. In one case in California, prosecutors brought three felony charges against a transplant surgeon that they believed hastened the death of a disabled and brain-damaged organ donor. A judge has already dismissed two of the charges, and the doctor's lawyers have recently asked the judge to dismiss the remaining charge, asserting that the physician's actions were consistent with the usual standard of care.

More information

Read more about organ donation at the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Robert Truog, M.D., professor, medical ethics and pediatric anesthesia, director, clinical ethics, Harvard Medical School, executive director,
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